Dr. Hal Scherz on the Affordable Care Act’s $27 Trillion of Unfunded Mandates and the Future of Medicare and Medicaid
September 13, 2012 Leave a comment
Editor’s Note from Lisa Wells, the Director of Marketing at UroMed: Many times people with spinal cord injuries are unable to work, which means many of our UroMed clients are on Medicare. Or, if a child has spinal bifida, most of them are on Medicare. These reasons are why UroMed is bringing this issue to our readers. If doctors stop taking Medicare or Medicaid patients, or, if someone has a life-changing event that takes away their ability to work, they may have difficulty finding a doctor who will accept either of these two plans. Part 5 of a 5 part series.
Scherz: On the path that we’re on right now, these two entitlement programs will no longer be available in the future. However, we believe that these two programs can be set up, so that they won’t go away in the future, if some changes are made.
Question: In your opinion, what will happen to Medicaid and Medicare in the next 5 to 10 years?
Scherz: According to the Medicare actuary, unless they receive the cuts that are written into The Affordable Care Act, Medicare will run out of money in 2017, which is 5 years from now. If Congress gets the cuts (reductions in payments to doctors, hospitals and medical providers) then Medicare can keep functioning as it is until 2024. One of the items of the Affordable Care Act that most people don’t know about is that there is $27 trillion worth of unfunded mandates and obligations for Medicare right now. The Medicare system cannot accomplish these mandates without that $27 trillion.
Question: A mandate is when the government says that if a person has a broken leg, a doctor has to see that patient, fix that broken leg, put a cast on it and give the patient some crutches, right? However, there’s nothing in that mandate that says how the doctor gets paid for his time, how the hospital gets paid for maintaining the emergency room, or how the materials to make the cast or the crutches for the person to walk out on are funded, and herein is the problem. Everybody feels good about being able to put the cast on his or her leg for free, but the doctors and the hospitals must be paid, as well as the people who provide the crutches, and there’s no money to pay for these expenses. Is there anything that’s free?
Scherz: No, there’s not. Number one, the government doesn’t have any money to pay for this free health care. Next, you have to ask; “Where does the government get its money?” The answer is simple, from the taxpayers. When the Affordable Care Act says that everyone can have wellness visits to the doctor, or the government pays for preventative health care , then you have to ask the question, “Who is paying for all this free health care ?” For the government to give anything to anyone, they have to take the money to pay for that “free” gift from someone else. Now, if the taxpayers don’t pay for this free healthcare, and the doctors and the hospitals can’t afford to pay for this free health care, then who will pay for it? What kind of health care can we expect, if no one is willing to pay for the health care that the government has promised? Should anyone be asked to work or provide services for free? There are some major issues here that are going to affect all of us detrimentally, if we don’t become involved with our own health care. So, our organization, Docs4 Patient Care, is encouraging everyone in the health care community to present a strong, single voice to Congress about our concerns and how we think health care should be administered and paid for, instead of letting the Washington politicians tell us what will happen.
This reason is why Docs4 Patient Care is trying to build its membership, by developing state chapters around the country. We currently have 13 state chapters of Docs4 Patient Care with 4 to 6 more chapters being developed right now. Many of the issues that need to happen to reform the Affordable Care Act have to happen at the state level. So, individuals in states can be very effective in talking to state legislators to help legislators implement reforms in the Affordable Care Act. On our webpage (www.docs4patients.org) we have a place – the “Download Center” (http://docs4patientcare.org/downloads) – where doctors can download information to give to their patients. This Download Center focuses on two different sections – one on what patients need to know and another on what doctors need to know. You can download and print these articles. Patients can give this information to their doctors, and doctors can give this to their patients. Also patients and doctors can share this timely information with their legislators. We are constantly putting new information up on the webpage. We believe that patients make the best healthcare decisions for themselves and their families. Doctors shouldn’t have their hands tied (by the federal government) in making those decisions. If we don’t work now to preserve that doctor-patient relationship and change the direction that health care is going at the current time, then we may see many more problems.
All photos were taken from www.docs4patientcare.org
About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com